Thursday 5 July 2018

James K.A. Smith on Theocracy and Kingdom

Comment has just published a great piece (here) by James K.A. Smith offering ‘a caution for reactionary liberals who hear “theocracy” whenever Christians talk about “the kingdom.”’

He particularly has in his sights those who confuses dominionism (an understanding which thinks it’s our job to impose the kingdom here and now) ‘with the Christian political endeavour of an Abraham Kuyper’.

It’s not, he makes clear, that ‘the gospel is comfortably apolitical’. The language of the kingdom is ‘a reminder that Christianity is not just some privatized message of soul-rescue that we can comfortably fence off as “personal piety.”’ Still, ‘every time we pray “Thy kingdom come,” we are reminded it hasn’t arrived yet’.

Here, for me, is the killer paragraph:

‘[T]he arc of the biblical narrative includes a very important temporal pause button that the Dominionists ignore: we await the kingdom, we don’t impose it. In the meantime of our waiting, we hope to bear witness to our neighbours about these truths... not so we can “win” or “take over” or “have dominion” but because we believe these truths are gifts of insight into common human concern. We bring these insights to the table of public debate as a proposal to consider, not a fiat to be imposed. We hope to change things, but we see democracy as a gift for the saeculum and understand we need to persuade our neighbours. The biblical narrative teaches us to expect pluralism and difference in the meantime.’

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